A 69th Primetime Emmy Awards Breakdown: The Big Winners

For the most part, the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards were fairly predictable. I myself went 16/27, which is way too high for a year when so many shocks are capable of being delivered (remember that Game of Thrones was ineligible for coming out in the summer, and will likely dominate this year). This mean that the excitement had to come from two places: the speeches, and the bucking of tradition. Luckily, both delivered.

Before I elaborate on those two requirements, allow me to recap the awards of the night. Obviously, total domination was held from three places: Big Little Lies, which won all but one of the Miniseries/TV Movie Categories it was eligible for, Saturday Night Live, which won every category it was nominated for except for writing (deservedly so; even if, like me, you grew tired of Emmy winner Alec Baldwin’s one-note impression – I much prefer The President Show’s Anthony Atamanuik – it was undeniably a strong season across the board, from David Pumpkins to Scarlett Johansson’s entire episode), and of course, the night’s big winner The Handmaid’s Tale, which won the expected awards (direction, writing), the hinted at awards (Drama Series, Lead Actress Elisabeth Moss), and the shocker that was Ann Dowd, who looked so beautifully confused when they called her name, despite having been the best part of, like, four different shows this year. The woman is a national treasure. Meanwhile, last year’s winners Veep and Last Week Tonight won two Emmys apiece, including the top prize in their fields, however, they found their usual bounty split up amongst fresher, younger shows. This mainly meant we got to see Donald Glover become a two-time winner, for directing “B.A.N.,” one of the best television episodes of 2016, and for starring in the show he created, wrote, and produced, Atlanta (the show that should have won Best Comedy). This, however, is where things get interesting.

You see, we got to witness history being made over and over last night. Several of those winners were amongst the first in their field. Donald Glover was the first African-American to ever win the Best Director Emmy, and the first to win Best Actor in a Comedy since 1984. Sterling K. Brown was the first African-American to win back-to-back Emmys (after his remarkable turns on both The People vs. O.J. Simpson and This Is Us). Elisabeth Moss finally won an Emmy after seven nominations, most of which came for her groundbreaking work on Mad Men. And, perhaps most excitingly, Lena Waithe, the first African-American woman to ever be nominated for writing on a comedy series, won, and received a standing ovation from the crowd. Having watched the episode a few nights ago in the build-up to the win (the episode being “Thanksgiving” on Master of None, and following her real-life situation to come out to her traditionally black mother and the ups and downs that went into family Thanksgivings surrounding the event), and I can confirm that it is truly thrilling writing, changing the game in its heart, soul, and realism, and deserves to be lauded as an all-time great in television history. The speech she gave afterwards was one of the best of the night. Other great speeches include Donald Glover’s – both of them, draped in a fabulous purple tuxedo – Ann Dowd’s, who fought back tears throughout, John Lithgow, who exuded class and intelligence in a subtle, yet poignant speech, the half of Nicole Kidman’s speech that wasn’t rambling where she thanked her daughters and called for support of domestic abuse victims, what we could hear of Sterling K. Brown’s, who explained why it was important to have heroes like himself, Andre Braugher’s Frank Pemberton, and more positive examples of African-Americans for young kids to look up to, before being unceremoniously cut off because of Kidman going over, and Charlie Brooker, who won not only Best TV Movie for his groundbreaking and innovative “San Junipero,” but also won a surprise Best Writing trophy. “San Junipero was one of the best episodes of television last year, and you should watch it if you get the chance. Oh, and while I’m at it, I should point out that Jackie Hoffman from Feud had a background bit where she faked anger and resentment toward Best Supporting Actress winner Laura Dern for beating her, and it was my favorite thing ever (watch the clip again, and you can see her yell “Damn it!”).

That concludes this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards rundown. Overall, it was a fairly boring show, livened by meaningful wins and strong speeches. Oh, and an appearance by former Press Secretary Sean Spicer, which, love it or hate it, certainly made everyone in the room and around the world collectively gasp. Kudos to the producers for eliciting that response, I guess. If you need me, I’ll be watching The Handmaid’s Tale and Big Little Lies to make my own assessment, and you should all be watching Atlanta, Master of None, and “San Junipero” so you can learn why everyone last night kept referring to this as the Golden Age of Television, which it very well may be (or at least a Golden Age). You can find the full list of winners below.

Outstanding Drama Series

  • The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Better Call Saul
  • The Crown
  • House of Cards
  • Stranger Things
  • This Is Us
  • Westworld

Outstanding Comedy Series

  • Veep
  • Atlanta
  • Black-ish
  • Master of None
  • Modern Family
  • Silicon Valley
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Outstanding Variety Talk Series

  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
  • Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live!
  • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
  • The Late Late Show with James Corden
  • Real Time With Bill Maher

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series

  • Saturday Night Live
  • Billy on the Street
  • Documentary Now!
  • Drunk History
  • Portlandia
  • Tracey Ullman’s Show

Outstanding Limited Series

  • Big Little Lies
  • Fargo
  • Feud: Bette and Joan
  • Genius
  • The Night Of

Outstanding Television Movie

  • Black Mirror: San Junipero
  • Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
  • Sherlock: The Lying Detective
  • The Wizard of Lies

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program

  • The Voice
  • The Amazing Race
  • American Ninja Warrior
  • Project Runway
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race
  • Top Chef

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Donald Glover-Atlanta
  • Anthony Anderson-Black-ish
  • Aziz Ansari-Master of None
  • Zach Galifianakis-Baskets
  • William H. Macy-Shameless
  • Jeffrey Tambor-Transparent

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus-Veep
  • Pamela Adlon-Better Things
  • Jane Fonda-Grace and Frankie
  • Allison Janney-Mom
  • Ellie Kemper-Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Tracee Ellis Ross-Black-ish
  • Lily Tomlin-Grace and Frankie

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

  • Sterling K. Brown-This Is Us
  • Anthony Hopkins-Westworld
  • Bob Odenkirk-Better Call Saul
  • Matthew Rhys-The Americans
  • Live Schreiber-Ray Donovan
  • Kevin Spacey-House of Cards
  • Milo Ventimiglia-This Is Us

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

  • Elisabeth Moss-The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Viola Davis-How to Get Away with Murder
  • Claire Foy-The Crown
  • Keri Russell-The Americans
  • Evan Rachel Wood-Westworld
  • Robin Wright-House of Cards

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series/TV Movie

  • Riz Ahmed-The Night Of
  • Benedict Cumberbatch-Sherlock: The Lying Detective
  • Robert De Niro-The Wizard of Lies
  • Ewan McGregor-Fargo
  • Geoffrey Rush-Genius
  • John Turturro-The Night Of

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series/TV Movie

  • Nicole Kidman-Big Little Lies
  • Carrie Coon-Fargo
  • Felicity Huffman-American Crime
  • Jessica Lange-Feud: Bette and Joan
  • Susan Sarandon-Feud: Bette and Joan
  • Reese Withersoon-Big Little Lies

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Alec Baldwin-Saturday Night Live
  • Louie Anderson-Baskets
  • Tituss Burgess-Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Ty Burrell-Modern Family
  • Tony Hale-Veep
  • Matt Walsh-Veep

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Kate McKinnon-Saturday Night Live
  • Vanessa Bayer-Saturday Night Live
  • Anna Chlumsky-Veep
  • Kathryn Hahn-Transparent
  • Leslie Jones-Saturday Night Live
  • Judith Light-Transparent

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

  • John Lithgow-The Crown
  • Jonathan Banks-Better Call Saul
  • David Harbour-Stranger Things
  • Ron Cephas Jones-This Is Us
  • Michael Kelly-House of Cards
  • Mandy Patinkin-Homeland
  • Jeffrey Wright-Westworld

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Ann Dowd-The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Uzo Aduba-Orange Is the New Black
  • Millie Bobby Brown-Stranger Things
  • Chrissy Metz-This Is Us
  • Thandie Newton-Westworld
  • Samira Wiley-The Handmaid’s Tale

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series/TV Movie

  • Alexander Skarsgård-Big Little Lies
  • Bill Camp-The Night Of
  • Alfred Molina-Feud: Bette and Joan
  • David Thewlis-Fargo
  • Stanley Tucci-Feud: Bette and Joan
  • Michael K. Williams-The Night Of

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series/TV Movie

  • Laura Dern-Big Little Lies
  • Judy Davis-Feud: Bette and Joan
  • Jackie Hoffman-Feud: Bette and Joan
  • Regina King-American Crime
  • Michelle Pfeiffer-The Wizard of Lies
  • Shailene Woodley-Big Little Lies

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series

  • “B.A.N.”-Atlanta (Donald Glover)
  • “Intellectual Property”-Silicon Valley (Jamie Babbit)
  • “Server Error”-Silicon Valley (Mike Judge)
  • “Blurb”-Veep (Morgan Sackett)
  • “Justice”-Veep (Dale Stern)
  • “Groundbreaking”-Veep (David Mandel)

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series

  • “Offred”-The Handmaid’s Tale (Reed Morano)
  • “Witness”-Better Call Saul (Vince Gilligan)
  • “Hyde Park Corner”-The Crown (Stephen Daldry)
  • “The Bridge”-The Handmaid’s Tale (Kate Dennis)
  • “America First”-Homeland (Lesli Linka Glatter)
  • “Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers”-Stranger Things (The Duffer Brothers)
  • “The Bicameral Mind”-Westworld (Jonathan Nolan)

Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series

  • Saturday Night Live
  • Drunk History
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live!
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
  • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series/TV Movie

  • Big Little Lies (Jean-Marc Vallée)
  • Fargo: “The Law of Vacant Places” (Noah Hawley)
  • Feud: Bette and Joan: “And The Winner Is… (The Oscars of 1963)” (Ryan Murphy)
  • Genius: “Einstein: Chapter One” (Ron Howard)
  • The Night Of: “The Art of War” (James Marsh)
  • The Night Of: “The Beach” (Steve Zaillian)

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series

  • “Thanksgiving”-Master of None (Aziz Ansari and Lena Waithe)
  • “B.A.N.”-Atlanta (Donald Glover)
  • “Streets on Lock”-Atlanta (Stephen Glover)
  • “Success Failure”-Silicon Valley (Alec Berg)
  • “Georgia”-Veep (Billy Kimball)
  • “Groundbreaking”-Veep (David Mandel)

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

  • “Offred”-The Handmaid’s Tale (Bruce Miller)
  • “The Soviet Division”-The Americans (Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg)
  • “Chicanery”-Better Call Saul (Gordon Smith)
  • “Assassins”-The Crown (Peter Morgan)
  • “Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers”-Stranger Things (The Duffer Brothers)
  • “The Bicameral Mind”-Westworld (Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan)

Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series

  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
  • Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
  • Late Night with Seth Meyers
  • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
  • Saturday Night Live

Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series/TV Movie

  • Black Mirror: “San Junipero” (Charlie Brooker)
  • Big Little Lies (David E. Kelley)
  • Fargo: “The Law of Vacant Places” (Noah Hawley)
  • Feud: Bette and Joan: “And the Winner Is… (The Oscars of 1963)” (Ryan Murphy)
  • Feud: Bette and Joan: “Pilot” (Jaffe Cohen, Michael Zam, and Ryan Murphy)
  • The Night Of: “The Call of the Wild” (Richard Price and Steven Zaillian)

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